Vintage Leptothrix discophora
November 3, 2018
This summer and fall have seen far too much rain to produce much in the way of colorful Leptothrix discophora films. But I miss them, so this post delves into photographs I took of this evidence of iron bacteria along Ohio’s Vermilion River between 2008 and 2010, before I’d started the blog. Some of these photos may be repeats of other dives into the archives. I hope that since I can’t remember if I’ve shown them, you can’t either.
What a beautiful photo! Thank you for sharing!
November 3, 2018 at 3:17 AM
Thank you, Liz.
November 3, 2018 at 11:10 AM
I don’t recall seeing these images, but the one with the yellow leaf in the middle is a knockout!
November 3, 2018 at 9:12 AM
Thanks, Larry. You’re fairly new to the blog, so you may not have seen these.
November 3, 2018 at 11:12 AM
I’ll never tire of these photos, Linda. Ever since I started following your blog, I’ve been on the lookout for the iron bacteria in my area. I’ve still not had the opportunity to shoot this fascinating subject myself so maybe I’m not looking in the right places. These photos have an enduring quality so they’ll never get old.
November 3, 2018 at 9:51 AM
Ahh, thank you, Ken. I’m sort of surprised you haven’t seen the films in person yet. I am confident that your day is coming—but probably not before late spring or summer. And that’s if you don’t get all this terrible rain.
November 3, 2018 at 11:15 AM
What a wonderful series to see – i’m with Ken, I don’t tire of them. I like seeing some that are more abstract and some with objects like the leaf – for me, it makes it all more real. i still can’t quite believe these films exist. Not really, but you know what I mean. Joe says we’ve seen them, but I don’t remember it.
I like the way the first three images pour into one another. Each one is gorgeous, and the third is a knockout. I think the sixth might be my favorite – something in the composition. The colors too, of course, but it’s more about how my eye moves from one thing to another and wants to explore it all. The image above it has, i think, a sedge laying across the film – see the edges?
Well, if I dare speak for him, I think Ken and I will attend your workshop. Yes, didn’t you know? You’re going to do a Leptothrix photography workshop. 🙂 Timing may be a little tricky, but we will stand by.
November 3, 2018 at 1:22 PM
Yes, I do know what you mean about the films’ seeming unreality. Try searching the ditches or small streams around Fidalgo; you’re bound to find them somewhere near you. About the sixth photo: I hesitated posting it because I can’t vouch for the truthfulness of the colors. That reddish orange doesn’t look like anything I’ve seen recently. Maybe the chemistry of the river water has changed since 2010, or maybe the camera goofed in representing the color, or maybe it really did look like that. Number 5 does indeed have a sedge leaf. There’s a lot of sedge along this part of the river. As for the workshop, would the third week in July work for you? That’s usually (though not this year) a good time to see the L. discophora films around here. Or we could make it a traveling workshop: tour four or five areas of the country, maybe in an electric VW bus.
November 3, 2018 at 2:14 PM
Ditches, that makes sense. We might have too much rain, much of the time, but maybe in between I might see it. Hmmm, the third week of July….that’s funny, last night I heard a poet say that’s the time to look for beet flowers in the beet seed fields around here – the county produces quantities of beet seed. The traveling workshop sounds excellent. 🙂
November 9, 2018 at 4:35 PM
The link was fun – did you watch the little video? 🙂 But they took all the personality out with the new iteration, boo hoo. Like so many on our age group, I remember some great times in one of the early VW campers, especially a trip from NY up to Campobello Island (off Maine)….and the cat was with us, and it didn’t ever want to go back home….
November 9, 2018 at 4:40 PM
I did watch it, and again just now to make sure. VW camping came at a wrong time in my life for me to participate personally, but I do remember those days for others. Glad you and the cat had great times in one.
November 9, 2018 at 4:47 PM
OK, I’ll pick you up first, and we can go from there to Webster, and on to Springfield. Maybe by then they’ll have built a bridge from Sarah Palin’s place to Russia and we can all head up there and then swing down and pick up Adrian, Andy, and Harrie. How does that sound?
November 9, 2018 at 5:03 PM
Thank you, Linda! Whether we’re seeing any of these beautiful photos for the first time or the second, they are a delight.
November 3, 2018 at 4:54 PM
Thanks, (guessing), Marjorie.
November 3, 2018 at 5:29 PM
Great, wonderful series, Linda! They have a light, silent mystery in them; very special! 🙂
November 3, 2018 at 5:27 PM
Thank you, Harrie. They are some of my favorite things to photograph but are difficult to get right. You have to get them at the right time of day (avoiding mid-day) and from the right angle, which isn’t always possible because of things in the way.
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November 3, 2018 at 5:31 PM
What a beautiful and interesting post, I never knew such colourful things even existed!!! But don’t worry about showing images more than once – after all, as you say, we may have forgotten them, and there’s also the point that newer followers of your blog won’t have seen them at all. I think it a great waste to show (at least our better) images only once. Adrian 🙂
November 4, 2018 at 2:41 AM
Thank you, Adrian. You have a good point, and I’m certainly glad you are revisiting some of your older images. I’ve been enjoying them. As for these colorful things, keep your eyes open. (Ha ha, as if you don’t.) They live all over the world. If you have any boggy areas near you, check them out for sure. Here’s a link to many articles about the iron-breathing bacteria, of which Leptothrix discophora is one.
November 4, 2018 at 8:19 AM
This is a new world for me – but when you mention boggy areas, maybe these things are related to what, as a geologist, I know as Bog Iron Ore. Thanks for the link! A 🙂
November 4, 2018 at 9:08 AM
Yes! It’s because of the bog iron that you may find the L. discophora films there. You probably won’t see them after a recent rain, though. Rain or other disturbance to the film disperses it. This is also true along Ohio’s Vermilion River, which is where I take most of my photographs of these films. As you’ll see if you go to the last two links on that page, however, there are places near abandoned mines where the iron bacteria get out of hand. There the precipitated iron and the L. discophora films (where the water is still enough) are abundant and considered pollutants.
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November 4, 2018 at 9:38 AM
This is very interesting – thank you, Linda, for opening my eyes to this! A 🙂
November 4, 2018 at 9:42 AM